It’s been 25 years since O.J. Simpson was a fugitive, and it seemed the whole world was looking for him.
It was June 17, 1994, and Simpson was supposed to turn himself in to Los Angeles police in connection with the killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.
Within minutes, the world was transfixed by what it was seeing. They said that even in the moment, this could be history in the making.
In the days before the chase, Simpson had become the chief suspect in the double murder. He was set to turn himself at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.
As minutes passed, tension grew, with hundreds of reporters gathered for the perp walk. Finally, LAPD Cmdr. Dave Gascon publicly declared Simpson was a fugitive.
The search began. California Highway Patrol officers finally spotted Simpson on the 5 Freeway in Orange County. He was in the back seat of his friend Al Cowlings’ Ford Bronco, sobbing and holding a gun.
With Simpson holding the barrel of a .357 magnum to his head in the back of the Bronco as Cowlings drove north on the 405 Freeway, the networks interrupted regularly scheduled programming to air the pursuit. NBC cut between it and Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets.
As the chase moved into Los Angeles, the scene became more surreal.
Onlookers jammed the overpasses for a glimpse. Some held up huge signs encouraging the star with messages such as “Go O.J.” As the white Bronco got into Los Angeles, people walked onto the freeway to cheer him on.
At LAPD headquarters, officials debated how the pursuit would end and how they could get Simpson to surrender peacefully.
Inside the Bronco, Simpson answered a cellphone call from lead Det. Tom Lange.
With the sounds of sirens in the background, Lange tried to make a connection: “O.J. O.J. This is Tom Lange from the Police Department. Remember me.”
Lange’s goal was to get Simpson to toss the gun out the window.
Gascon said he stood behind Lange as he spoke.
“Just let me get to the house,” Simpson begged the detective.
“I just need to get to my house where I lived with Nicole,” Simpson pleaded.
Lange asked him to toss the gun, and Simpson replied, “I am not going to hurt anybody … but I need it for me.”
Lange then told Simpson his kids needed him and his mother loved him.
Gascon said he thought at the time that Simpson was too much of narcissist to harm himself.
“I thought it was a play for sympathy by Simpson,” he said.
Gascon said the LAPD was prepared with tactical, heavily armed officers at Simpson’s Rockingham estate in case the pursuit ended with a violent standoff and “it went sideways.”
We all know now that he did surrender himself after all the chasing and bullshitting was said and done. I do think he may have wanted to kill himself at one point only for selfish reasons, then it just turned into something else I guess he wanted a pity party. Which he did get from some people of course, others not so much. I didn’t even grow up knowing him as a famous football player. I actually knew of him as the guy who probably killed somebody. Yeah, sad but true. If you ever even looked at all the evidence it’s hard to say he didn’t do it, but I guess sometimes money can buy you the best lawyer. In his case it did and he pretty much got away with it all. But the murder of Nicole and Ronald is for another separate post.
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